Advantages and Disadvantages of various kinds of Test Questions

It’s good to regularly review the advantages and disadvantages of the very most commonly used test questions while the test banks that now frequently provide them.

Multiple-choice questions

  • Quick and easy to score, by hand or electronically
  • May be written in order that they test a range that is wide of thinking skills
  • Can cover a lot of content areas on a exam that is single still be answered in a class period
  • Often test literacy skills: “if the student reads the question carefully, the clear answer is simple to recognize even when the student knows little about the subject” (p. 194)
  • Provide unprepared students the chance to guess, sufficient reason for guesses which can be right, they get credit for things they don’t know
  • Expose students to misinformation that will influence subsequent thinking about the content
  • Take some time and skill to construct questions that are(especially good

True-false questions

  • Easy and quick to score
  • Considered to be “one of the most extremely unreliable types of assessment” (p. 195)
  • Often written so that all of the statement is true save one small, often trivial little bit of information that then helps make the whole statement untrue
  • Encourage guessing, and reward for correct guesses

Short-answer questions

  • Quick and easy to grade
  • Fast and simple to write
  • Encourage students to memorize terms and details, to make certain that their knowledge of the information remains superficial
  • Offer students a way to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and abilities in a variety of ways
  • Could be used to develop student writing skills, particularly the capacity to formulate arguments supported with evidence and reasoning
  • Require extensive time for you to grade

  • Encourage use of subjective criteria when answers that are assessing
  • If used in class, necessitate quick composition without time for planning or revision, which could end in poor-quality writing

Questions given by test banks

  • Save instructors the right time and effort involved with writing test questions
  • Utilize the terms and methods that are utilized in the book
  • Rarely involve analysis, synthesis, application, or evaluation (cross-discipline research documents that approximately 85 percent of the questions in test banks test recall)
  • Limit the scope for the exam to text content; if used extensively, may lead students to conclude that the material covered in class is unimportant and irrelevant

We have a tendency to think that they are the only test question options, but there are a few interesting variations. The content that promoted this review proposes one: focus on a concern, and revise it until it may be answered with one word or a phrase that is short. Usually do not list any answer choices for that single question, but affix to the exam an alphabetized a number of answers. Students select answers from that list. A number of the answers provided may be used more often than once, some is almost certainly not used, and there are many more answers listed than questions. It’s a ratcheted-up version of matching. The approach helps make the test more challenging and decreases the possibility of having an answer correct by guessing.

Remember, students do need to be introduced to any new or altered question format on an exam before they encounter it.

Editor’s note: the menu of pros and cons is available in part from the article referenced here. Moreover it cites research evidence highly relevant to some of those benefits and drawbacks.

Reference: McAllister, D., and Guidice, R.M. (2012). This is certainly only a test: A machine-graded improvement to your multiple-choice and examination that is true-false. Teaching in Higher Education, 17 (2), 193-207.

Reprinted from The Teaching Professor, 28.3 (2014): 8. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.